Rich, immersive and beautiful: Community based tourism on the rise

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Experience real local culture, gain knowledge of local rituals and beliefs – Community tourism refers to tourists living as natives, sharing their lives by living with host families, farm stays and engaging in activities such as cooking and crafting together, telling stories and visiting villages.

“Community tourism focuses on the interaction between local communities and travelers. Since people are inseparable from the places where they live, it kind of forms a web of life with the ecology and landscapes of a region. It is in the interests of travelers, especially those seeking a meaningful, insightful and educational travel experience, to have direct interaction with the communities that live in the places they visit, ”said Vaivhav Todi, director of Greener Pastures, which organizes community tours in Nagaland, Assam and Meghalaya.

By engaging with the community, the traveler gets a rare opportunity to truly connect with the landscape through the people, in terms of cultural elements such as dances, folklore, songs, costumes and the cuisine that comes together. are developed in direct correlation with the natural environment and which exposes this delicate and secret network of life.

“This type of trip not only gives you a real taste of local life, but also ensures that your travel experience makes a real difference to the locals,” says Sumit Kapoor, a human resources manager who recently visited the tribe. Warli in Walvanda, Maharashtra.

The beauty of community tourism is that it allows local communities to have full ownership and management of the tourism experience, which in turn ensures that the economic benefits of tourism remain within their community.

“The idea behind our model of community tourism is to ensure that local communities themselves take control and responsibility for tourism activities, and showcase their own culture and heritage in the process. In our experiences, we usually offer direct interaction between guests and local community experts through walks, biodiversity trails, hikes, art workshops. We also include a home-made local meal prepared with local flavors, ”says Mohit Bagadia of Swadesee Experiences who runs tours in partnership with local experts.

Through community tourism, locals have the opportunity to present and share their culture with the world and learn about other cultures, thus creating a sense of pride among the indigenous population. “The magnificent Nilgiris are home to many tribes like the Todas, Kotas, Badagas and Kurumbas. We are organizing a visit to the Toda tribe in Orissa which is truly an unforgettable experience. Their culture has an irresistible appeal to travelers, who are charmed by the simple life of the Todas. They are also fascinated by their beautiful symmetrical houses, called ‘dogles’, which are made of bamboo and stones, ”says Miguel Munoz, Resort Manager, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited.

Renest Bandhavgarh Meadows located near Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh organizes tours of Baiga tribes. ritual followed by a hearty dinner under the canopy of Jamun. The Baiga tribes are farmers who cultivate small tracts of land all around the tiger reserve and cultivate local varieties of rice, corn and mainly wheat, ”says Vishal Lonkar, Managing Director, Brand Development, Renest Hotels and Resorts.

Meals generally depend on local agriculture, and communities keep in mind not to overstep limits as they cannot put unnecessary strain on their own resources.

These visits help them to earn a better living and thus contribute to enriching their lives.

Shruti Khandare, model and influencer who visited Bishnoi Village, says: “Located not far from Jodhpur, Bishnoi Village offers an authentic experience of rural Rajasthan. The notable Bishnoi tribe revere and live in harmony with nature, so much so that they bury their dead to preserve trees, as the wood is used for cremation. We took the Bishnoi Village Safari from Jodhpur and visited artisans such as weavers, potters and block printers, and learned about their culture.

As for the costs of such a trip, it fluctuates wildly. For tours in Maharashtra the prices could be as low as 1000 per day while for immersive tours in remote areas of the northeast the price range could go from ??5,000 to 9,000

It is a great way to get a glimpse of new cultures, traditions, to meet and learn from local people which would not be possible in a conventional pop-up visit and, in addition, to build relationships. sustainable with these communities.

Benefits of community travel

Provides stimulus to the economy

Community trips provide employment opportunities for locals who can act as guides, provide meals, procure goods and perform other tourism-related work. the components of a tourist program with a host family, ”explains Khandare.

Preserving culture

By providing employment opportunities to young people locally, community tourism prevents them from leaving for the big cities. “By creating a dialogue and exchange between city dwellers or travelers and local communities in rural India, we are trying to disseminate information, reduce barriers and eventually bridge the urban-rural divide that causes many such problems. as urban migration, water imbalance, unsustainable lifestyles and so on, ”says Bagadia

A lesson in sustainability

Traditional communities often have much more to teach us about our sustainable practices than our urban counterparts. It aims to protect community resources and conserve wildlife. It also encourages pride within the community.

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